Diversity, Culture and Counselling: A Canadian Perspective

Diversity, Culture and Counselling: A Canadian Perspective

Paperback(New Edition)



Canada is one of the most diverse nations in the world. As counsellors increasingly deal with people from many different cultures and backgrounds, there is a need to shift from Eurocentric counselling theories and methods towards an approach that recognizes diversity and new world perspectives.

Bringing a fresh Canadian outlook to the field of multicultural counselling, this collection provides valuable information about many cultural groups in Canada with practical perspectives on subjects such as treating Muslim clients, the specific needs of Indo-Canadians, the role of traditional healing methods in Aboriginal cultures, and helping immigrant children cope with acculturation in the school system. Fully revised and updated, the second edition of Diversity, Culture and Counselling also includes brand-new topics on dealing with refugee trauma, working with people with disabilities, practicing yoga therapy, and harnessing the power of storytelling.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550594416
Publisher: Brush Education
Publication date: 12/10/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

M. Honore France, EdD, is from the Ani-yun-wiwa First Nation and is a professor at the University of Victoria, where he teaches courses in diversity, family therapy, group dynamics, and research methodology. His current research and teaching interests are cross-cultural counselling issues, ecopsychology, counselling residential school survivors, and crosscultural child development.

Maria del Carmen Rodriguez, PhD, is an assistant professor of Indigenous education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. Prior to her appointment, she worked as an early childhood educator and as an elementary school teacher for 20 years in Mexico. Dr. Rodriguez has published numerous articles and book chapters, and has presented scholarly papers throughout the Americas.

Geoffrey G. Hett, PhD, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies at the University of Victoria. He holds a Ph.D. in counselling psychology and teaches undergraduate courses in this area. He is the founding president of the Erma Fennell Foundation for the Relief of Poverty, a Canadian charity that supports the relief of poverty in a small community in Mexico.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Counselling across Cultures: Identity, Race and Communication

M. Honore France

“How have Torontonians gone from around 3% visible minorities in the early 1960s to more than 50% now without any major disruption, while the people of Los Angeles, experiencing about the same degree of change over the same period, felt the need to burn down parts of their city not once but twice?”

— Gwynne Dyer (2001, p. 45)

Nega Mezlekia's novel Notes from the Hyena's Belly (2000), which won the Governor General's Literary Award, begins with a metaphor of a donkey and a hyena. A lion, leopard, hyena and donkey come together to discuss why their land is in such poor state. In turn, they explain that the turmoil is due to a sin that has displeased God. Each animal, except the donkey, tells a story of attacking another animal and eating it, but each animal is told that eating an animal is an animal's nature, so it is not wrong. When it is the donkey's turn, he relates that while his human master was busy talking with another man, the donkey went off the trail and ate some grass. The other animals become enraged and tell the donkey that he is the one who has caused the problems by going off the path and eating the grass; they attack the donkey, kill him and eat him. Mezlekia concludes by saying that “we children lived like the donkey, careful not to wander off the beaten trail and end up in the hyena's belly” (p. 7).

Moving away from one's routines and traditions has a price; dangers are always present, and change is a constant. There is a subtle warning too in the metaphor: being different, like the donkey, can be dangerous. Mezlekia's metaphor is an apt warning not to take risks while at the same time showing that undertaking new challenges is a part of being human. Despite our best-laid plans, there are dangers in the world and down the street. Since the terrorist bombings on New York City and the fallout from the war in Iraq, the challenge for counsellors is that new tensions and new alliances abound. For counsellors, these new tensions and new alliances emerge from working in the reality of the multicultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual society that is Canada today.

The rapid changes in this society need to be addressed in a realistic yet positive manner, in which differences are not homogenized but celebrated because diversity is beautiful and strengthening. Being accepting and open to differences is often elusive. But why is this so? According to Baron, Kerr and Miller (1992), it is “the human tendency to disparage, distrust and dislike groups other than our own” (p. 134). One tendency of societies in general is that people exclude others who are different. In fact, it is not uncommon for people from the majority cultural and racial group to see someone different as being a stranger in their midst. Diller (2003) relates the story of someone of Asian extraction whose family has been living in North America for over a hundred years being taken as a foreign visitor because the country is seen as a country of European immigrants. People who are different “are deeply disturbed by their second-class citizenry” (Diller, 2003, p. 26). In Canada, people of colour who are not from the original founders of the Canadian state are called visible minorities; this label includes the original inhabitants—First Nations people. Visible minorities is a distinctive Canadian term that is often used as a shorthand to describe racial minorities who are not of European origin and who have physical characteristics that distinguish them from Canada's traditional mainstream of English and French peoples (Labelle, 2007).

The changing nature of society makes the argument for or against multiculturalism moot; but if society is to avoid cultural and racial misunderstanding, then the institutions of society need to adapt to the new realities. For counsellors, this adaptation may mean adopting a frame of reference in which counselling can be described as a working alliance. In other words, the counsellor creates a common ground with clients by establishing an avenue to resolution rather than first building on the idea of a trusting relationship. For people from some racial or ethnic backgrounds, trust of the counsellor may not be inherent, nor can it be established in the traditional manner that theoreticians like Carl Rogers suggested.

So, how does one establish a trusting relationship? Adopting the idea of a working alliance, counsellors and clients work in a collaborative way to accomplish clients' goals. Furthermore, we must consider that all counselling is potentially multicultural in one way or another, because it always deals with a range of variables that may be contradictory from situation to situation. Sciarra (1999) provides the following example: “the personalismo of the Latino culture can require a less formal and more affective counsellor, whereas these same counsellor characteristics may be alienating to some Asian clients” (p. 10). Adapting the process to suit the situation is fundamental, therefore, because there will always be some cultural differences between clients and counsellors.

Rationale for Diversity and Multicultural Counselling

The rationale for multicultural counselling arises in part from the growing multicultural factor in everyday life and from the increasingly small world brought about by more efficient communication and transportation systems. In early 2003, as the war in Iraq began, tensions between Christians and Muslims increased, along with more tensions between the developed and developing world, which only highlights cultural differences that divide people around the world. Waging war when differences are greater may be easier and more acceptable. In counselling, the challenge is to understand differences and enhance communication across cultures. More importantly, cultural differences exist not just between one group of people in the West and another group in the Middle East, but within the borders of Canada. Therefore, Canadians have no choice but to face the challenge of diversity issues and the changing mosaic of the Canadian nation.

Do societies made up from a variety of ethnic backgrounds experience more ethnic conflict than those that are more homogeneous? Certainly; and cultural differences in a counselling group usually stem from issues in the way the members communicate with one another. In the post 9/11 political environment, the issues of culture and religious values have been important factors in how terrorism and the invasion of Iraq have been dealt with in the media and everyday life. North American society cannot close its eyes to the issue of culture, race and language. In a world where most people are not Westerners, Caucasian or Christian—and in a world that is growing smaller—becoming multicultural is not only enriching but also protective. Everyone must be aware that humanity, as a community, has the power to destroy our world through nuclear war and pollution. War has its genesis in society's disrespect for people who are different. People have to learn not only how to control their willingness to harm those who have different customs and views, but also how to live in harmony with others and the environment.

Regardless of our language, race or culture, every community is interdependent with others. Therefore, when society discriminates, marginalizes and ostracizes people because they are different, everyone suffers. Society has come a long way in being more accepting of differences among people, yet it has a long way to go in creating a society that respects diversity. According to Suzuki, Ponterotto, Alexander and Casas (2009), when cultural aspects are added to the counselling process, the following rules have to be considered in order to be sensitive to different people:

1. A tolerance for logical inconsistency and paradox suggests a subjective definition of knowledge to supplement the more familiar rules of objective, rational logic;
2. The primary importance of relationships and collectivism contrasts with the more familiar bias toward individualism;
3. The implicit or explicit differentiation between modernization and Westernization ignores the possibility that other cultures may have good solutions to our problems;
4. The implicit assumption that change and progress are good must be challenged by clients having to deal with change as both good and bad at the same time;
5. The metaphor of a natural ecological setting reminds us of the many unknown and perhaps unknowable mysteries of the relationships among people and their environments;
6. The absolute categories of problem and solution and success and failure must be brought into question as inadequate;
7. The need to apply familiar counselling concepts to less familiar multicultural settings must be emphasized;
8. The need for new conceptual and methodological approaches to deal with the complexities of culture is apparent; and
9. The need for a grounded theory of multicultural counselling is essential to all counsellors is not an exotic or specialized perspective. (p. 23)

The world is changing swiftly where ethnic boundaries are changing. In the past, European cultural groups made up the vast majority of new immigrants in North America, whereas today Asian groups top the list. According to the Canadian Census Bureau (cited in Cohen, 2012), two-thirds of the country's population growth is now fuelled by immigration. More than half of those immigrants are from Asia, particularly from China and India, with fewer immigrants from Europe. In addition, the Aboriginal population increased by 3.4 per cent during the period between 1996 and 2001, and if current trends continue, Aboriginal people “may well be heading to majority status in many cities within the next 25 to 50 years” from Saskatchewan to northwestern Ontario (Dyer, 2001, p. 49). The Census Bureau has also estimated that by 2030 the province of British Columbia will have a majority non-white population. Already many urban areas of Canada are composed largely of racial minorities. What is making a remarkable impact, however, is the large number of immigrants settling in North American cities. This trend can already be seen in cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, where more than 70 per cent of immigrants settle. The multicultural reality is also evident in North American schools, where large numbers of students do not come from the “founding” ethnic groups. However, the issue goes much deeper than accommodating the new multicultural fact to changing the structures of our schools that were initially designed for a homogeneous population. The multicultural reality has changed the nature of a Eurocentric counselling theory and practice that fits a homogeneous population into a system that emphasizes diversity and a world perspective. Lorde (in Siccone, 1995) says, “it is a waste of time hating a mirror or its reflection instead of stopping the hand that makes glass with distortions” (p. xvi).

The Cost of Racism

“It is hard to understand a culture that justifies the killing of millions in past wars, and is at this very moment preparing bombs to kill even greater numbers. It is hard for me to understand a culture that spends more on wars and weapons to kill, than it does on education and welfare to help and develop. It is hard for me to understand a culture that not only hates and fights his brothers but also even attacks nature and abuses her.” (George, 1994, p. 38)

The pain and sorrow in Chief Dan George's words in describing the cultural misunderstandings between First Nations people and “white” people typifies like nothing else the nature of prejudice and racism. Diller (2003) suggests that helpers need to understand important elements of racism in order to help people work together in a multicultural society. First, racism is a universal phenomenon that exists in all societies around the world among all races. Secondly, most people are uncomfortable with talking about racism and even deny that it exists. There is a difference between prejudice and racism. Prejudice is an unfair and negative belief about the inferiority of a group of people, often based on faulty knowledge and a generalized view of others who are different. Racism “involves the total social structure where one group has conferred advantage through institutional polices . . . it is a social construction based on sociopolitical attitudes that demean specific racial characteristics” (Robinson & Howard-Hamilton, 2000, p. 58). It is not a natural response, but one learned from societal norms and observations of parents, friends and neighbours. Not surprisingly, prejudice does not result from constant negative experience with someone who is different, but through occasional contacts and reinforcement, such as a negative experience in a bar or an ethnic joke.

In Canada, minorities have been subjected to three forms of discrimination: individual racism, institutional racism and cultural racism. The most obvious forms of individual racism involve personal expressions that one race is superior to another. Institutional racism is communicated through established practices that perpetuate inequities, while cultural racism involves believing in the inferiority of one culture over another. The Government of Canada established the residential school system in order to “help” Aboriginals assimilate into majority society; however, the result was very different and demonstrates the cost of racism to individuals and communities:

“Social maladjustment, abuse of self and others and family breakdown are some of the symptoms prevalent among First Nation Babyboomers. The “Graduates” of the “Ste. Anne's Residential School” era are now trying and often failing to come to grips with life as adults after being raised as children in an atmosphere of fear, loneliness and loathing.

Fear of caretakers. Loneliness, knowing that elders and family were far away. Loathing from learning to hate oneself, because of repeated physical, verbal or sexual abuse suffered at the hands of various adult caretakers. This is only a small part of the story.” (in Milloy, 2001, pp. 295-96)

The reason for discriminating against others is not really complex. Consider that when people are faced with evidence of prejudice, they tend to reject it: “I'm not prejudiced against Indians, but most of them want to live on government assistance.” There is of course some cognitive dissonance going on, because prejudice and racism are difficult to admit. It is easy for a society to judge situations in other nations as racist or oppressive, such as Apartheid in South Africa or the practices of the Israeli occupation forces on the West Bank. Some might respond by saying, “It's their fault that their culture has disintegrated.” While this is not an uncommon response, it is a curious one, because it blames the victim for being victimized. Aboriginals are penalized for being culturally different, because of a system that neither allowed them citizenship nor allowed them to practice their language and culture. Chief Dan George (in de Montigny, 1972) said:

“Do you know what it is like to have your race belittled. . .—You don't know for you have never tasted its bitterness. . . . It is like not caring about tomorrow for what does tomorrow matter? It is having a reserve that looks like a junk yard because the beauty in the soul is dead. . . . Why should the soul express an external beauty that does not match it? It is like getting drunk for a few brief moments, an escape from the ugly reality and feeling a sense of importance. It is most of all like awaking next morning to the guilt of betrayal.

Table of Contents

Part I: Issues in Diversity, Culture and Counselling
1. Counselling across cultures: Identity, race and communication, M. Honoré France
2. Exploring world view, María del Carmen Rodríguez
3. Developing multicultural counselling skills, M. Honoré France, Geoffrey G. Hett, and María del Carmen Rodríguez
Part II: Counselling Procedures
4. Counselling in the Indigenous community, M. Honoré France, María del Carmen Rodríguez, and Rod McCormick
5. Counselling issues within the Asian community, David Sue
6. Where are you really from? Counselling in the Asian Canadian community, Andrea Sum
7. Counselling in the Indo-Canadian community: Challenges and promises, Ruby Rana and Sukkie Sihota
8. Acculturation and adaptation: Providing counselling for immigrants and refugees, Yali Li, M. Honoré France, and María del Carmen Rodríguez
9. Considerations for counsellors regarding refugee trauma locally and abroad, Lisa Kurytnik
10. The “hardest burden”? Helping and working with people with disabilities, Abebe Abay Teklu
11. Counselling in the Latino(a) community, Jorge Garcia and María del Carmen Rodríguez
12. Counselling Black Canadians, Elias Cheboud and M. Honoré France
13. Islamic identity: Counselling Muslim Canadians, Abdullahi Barise and M. Honoré France
14. My multiracial identity: Examining the biracial/multiracial dynamic, Natasha Caverley
15. Upon arrival: Ordeals and challenges in working with international students, María del Carmen Rodríguez
16. The counselling profession and the GLBTQI communit, Tracey Coulter and M. Honoré France
17. Counselling Euro-Canadians: A multicultural perspective, M. Honoré France and Steve Bentheim
Part III: Application and Practical Approaches
18. The Red Road: Spirituality, the medicine wheel and the sacred hoop, M. Honoré France, Rod McCormick, and María del Carmen Rodríguez
19. Yoga therapy: Ancient wisdom for today’s body, mind and spirit, Sarah Kinsley
20. Transpersonal counselling: A multicultural approach, Gary Nixon and M. Honoré France
21. Sufism and healing: An Islamic multicultural approach, Ava Bahrami and M. Honoré France
22. Creating compassion and selflessness through Naikan, M. Honoré France
23. Reconnecting with nature: Using nature in counselling, M. Honoré France and María del Carmen Rodríguez
24. Culturally friendly? A cognitive-behavioural approach to multicultural counselling, Geoffrey G. Hett, María del Carmen Rodríguez, and M. Honoré France
25. Pre-contact education and the role of storytelling, Wendy Edwards
26. Toward an integrated perspective: Restorative justice, cross-cultural counselling and school-based programming, Shannon A. Moore

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